Last night, I had a nightmare similar to one that has replayed itself, in different versions, over and over again for many years. A vision from my past. A specter of “what could have been” come back to haunt me.
And yet, even in my dreams, I’m never allowed to experience the joy of what could have been, but am instead tormented by scenes of an alternate, twisted reality; one in which I’m close enough to what could have been to almost touch it, but just far enough away to see that it’s no longer a part of my life. This sense of loss is crushing. And maddening.
Then, I wake up.
I think I’ve grieved long enough over what could have been, and perhaps even what should have been. Yes, there is a loss involved. What my life might have been had I not made those disastrous choices (which didn’t seem so disastrous at the time) I will never know. Perhaps if I was able to know, I would be so devastated that I would live the rest of my life as a cripple, unable to cope. Right now, I’m living out the alternate reality of what IS. Could have and should have are long gone; I only have what is. I have mourned my loss awake, and asleep. Now, I must learn to embrace with joy the possibilities of life as it now is, and of how it can be.
I believe God has grace for our mistakes. He knew, long before we ever made a toddling step, the bad choices we would make in this life. And even then, He already had in place a plan for their remedy–that is, if we would be willing to go along with it. Only HE knows the truth of what could have been; but this is reserved a mystery we are blocked from discovering. Instead, He beckons us forward to walk through the rugged land of what now is, whispering encouragement of what lies ahead, of what can be. He guides us by His hand of LOVE, illuminating our path with His HOPE, and asking of us that we simply have FAITH.
Just as He placed a flaming sword at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, barring the way back should anyone ever think of returning, so am I barred from returning to the land of goodness before I made my own disobedient choices. I can never return. It is blocked from me forever. Adam and Eve had to accept their alternate reality, and so must I. And yet, just as God had a plan for the redemption of humanity, even before Adam and Eve ever thought of biting the forbidden fruit, God also had a plan for the renewing of my life, even before I fell into sin. Perhaps if I could just come to the point of truly embracing what now is for all that it is, I could leave these nightmares behind me forever, never more to wake with heart pounding and tears welling. Never more to wake to the pain of regret as it rips, once more, through my insides.